CSIS Mourns the Loss of Zbigniew Brzezinski
May 26, 2017
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) mourns the death of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, CSIS counselor and trustee and national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
“Dr. Brzezinski’s intellectual contributions and influence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies cannot be overstated,” said John J. Hamre, CSIS President and CEO. “He will not live to guide us through this perilous time, but he has left behind hundreds of analysts and followers who will pick up the challenge to guide America. He will be greatly missed, but through these students and colleagues, he will be with us always.”
Dr. Brzezinski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1928. His father Tadeusz served as a diplomat in the new Polish Republic. His father was posted to Canada in 1938, and it was there that Dr. Brzezinski earned his B.A. in 1949 and M.A. in 1950 from McGill University. He went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1953 and served on its faculty from 1953 to 1960. He married Emilie Anna Benes shortly after her graduation from Wellesley College in 1955. In 1958, he became a U.S. citizen.
Dr. Brzezinski moved to Columbia University in 1960 as director of the Research Institute on Communist Affairs. He served as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Hubert H. Humphrey. He served on the State Department’s Policy Planning Council from 1966 to 1968 and shaped President Johnson’s “bridge-building” policy toward Eastern Europe.
In the early 1970s, he cofounded the Trilateral Commission along with David Rockefeller and served as its director from 1973 to 1976. He was presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s principal foreign policy adviser in 1976 and later served as President Carter’s national security adviser from 1977 to 1981.
Upon leaving the White House, Dr. Brzezinski remained active in policy debates, serving on various committees and task forces during the Ronald Reagan administration, including the Chemical Warfare Commission, the National Security Council–Defense Department Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, and the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
He joined the CSIS Board of Trustees in 1987 and began his tenure as cochair of the CSIS Advisory Board in 1995. During this time, Dr. Brzezinski also served as the Robert E. Osgood Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
During his long career, he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Order of the White Eagle (Poland’s highest civilian decoration), the Centennial Medal of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences of Harvard University, the Hubert Humphrey Award for Public Service from the American Political Science Association, and the David Rockefeller International Leadership Award. He was a prolific author, and his most recent book, Strategic Vision, was a New York Times best seller.
He is survived by his wife Emilie, his children Ian, Mika, and Mark, and his five grandchildren.
On behalf of the Brzezinski Family, CSIS welcomes individuals who wish to sign a book of remembrance for Dr. Brzezinski. The book will be available for signatures from May 30 (Tuesday) to June 9 (Friday) between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. CSIS is located at 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W, Washington, DC.